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Solomon Davis enjoys spending time with his friends and listening to Christian music. There was plenty of both on Friday, when they marked an early Thanksgiving with food, music and fellowship.
“This music has been my favorite for decades,” said Davis, 34, one of about 32 clients of the Adult Enrichment Centers in York who enjoyed a meal prepared by the center staff with their families.
And music was the day’s showstopper. Clients of the adult day program sang all their favorite hymns and other tunes — from “Amazing Grace” to “Skip to My Lou” and “Hokey Pokey” to “God Bless America.”
Davis, who has been coming to the center since 1998 after a car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury, said the music is his passion. “I only listen to Christian music at home,” he said.
Freida Price, executive director of York County Adult Day Care Services, a private, nonprofit organization that operates the enrichment center at 3 S. Pacific Ave. in York and two others in Rock Hill and Fort Mill, said the organization has put on the meal each year to thank the caregivers of their clients.
“This brings all of our families together and gives them a way to say thank you,” Price said. “Because the clients can’t cook a meal to thank their families. So we do that for them.”
Davis’ mother, Michelle Davis, who lives in York with her son, said the center clients and their families are a tight-knit group. “We’ve grown to love each other like an extended family,” she said. “This really is how the world is supposed to be. We are supposed to help each other.”
During the program, the clients performed favorite songs for their guests, both as a group and solo. Jamie Rogers sang “My Lord Keeps a Record.” Davis sang “Thank you, Lord.” Kristy Moore sang “Skip to My Lou.”
Together, they sang an enthusiatic rendition of “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hand.”
Some of the clients danced, too.
Carol Howell, owner of Senior Life Journeys in Rock Hill and leader of the music program, said she has been working with the center’s clients to provide a monthly music program since this summer.
Howell, a certified dementia specialist who offers music therapy, said music is one way to reach people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or age-related dementia and other cognitive disabilities.
Howell said the left side of the brain, the area most affected by dementia and other cognitive troubles, holds language. But she said the brain’s right side holds rhythm, poetry and art.
“People who can’t put words together to say, ‘Give me my sweater’ can sing whole songs,” Howell said. “Alzheimer’s is kinder to that part of the brain. The key is to sing songs they know, because they remember them.”
Howell has had plenty of personal experience with such disabilities. Her grandmother, Bessie, died after living with Alzheimer’s-type dementia for years. In 2006, her mother, Vera, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Her husband, Michael, also had cognitive issues as a result of a closed-head injury in 1992 that resulted in damage to his brain, amnesia and double vision. Howell began studying the brain and its functions as a result of her family situation. She realized there were similarities between her mother’s dementia and her husband’s brain injury and amnesia.
She said Senior Life Journeys was born out of that experience.
Price said the music therapy program offered at the York center operates on donations. York Electric Cooperative and Family Trust Federal Credit Union have sponsored the monthly progam. Last week, the program received donations so it can be offered more frequently.
Bobby Smith, another client of the York center, said he enjoys playing games and visiting with friends at the center. “We play cards. Together we play Bingo,” he said. “We read books. We talk most of the time.”
Registered nurse Paula Barnes, who with aide B.J. Mosley has been working at the York center for more than 18 years, finds joy in working with clients. “It’s more than a job,” she said. “These people are like family.”
Barnes, 58, said the alternative for many clients would be staying home alone. “It’s the kind of job where you feel like you make a difference every day, even if it’s just giving a hug,” she said.